The Tarball Chronicles

A Journey Beyond the Oiled Pelican and Into the Heart of the Gulf Oil Spill
The Tarball Chronicles: A Journey Beyond the Oiled Pelican and Into the Heart of the Gulf Oil Spill. Milkweed. Sept. 2011. c.272p. ISBN 9781571313331. $24. NAT HIST
While the news cycle has long finished with the Deepwater Horizon disaster of last summer, Gessner (Soaring with Fidel) reminds us that the outcome is still in question. He toured Gulf shorelines during and after the spill, talked with fishermen and biologists, and blogged about what he saw and heard. Growing out of those blog posts, the book is a work of personal journalism full of observations about nature in the Gulf. Gessner asks why BP, a British corporation, was allowed to direct the huge cleanup rather than the U.S. government. A critical difference from the Exxon Valdez calamity and subsequent cleanup is that BP sprayed powerful chemical dispersants to sink oil to the Gulf floor. After speculating that some important fisheries may be decimated for the long term, the author urges readers to make sacrifices in their energy consumption for the sake of future generations.
VERDICT This is real-life ecology for adults, who will consider the implications of oil dependence and relentless resource extraction.

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